NLGJA issued a press release to the media today encouraging fair and accurate coverage of the Proposition 8 decision today in California.

Washington, D.C. – As a result of today’s ruling on Prop 8, the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association would like to remind journalists, bloggers, columnists and media analysts the important role they play in giving citizens the information they need to understand the full impact that today’s ruling will have in their communities and across the country.

Journalists covering the issues of same-sex marriage, civil unions and partnership rights should familiarize themselves with specifics of the California case, the history of other cases involving marriage rights for LGBT individuals and the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Reporters should note the differences between marriage law and the legal designation of civil unions. Civil unions are presumed to extend marriage benefits and protections; however, they do not include federal benefits available to married couples. Civil unions also have no effect on religious congregations and their option to bless or not bless civil unions registered with these states.

As NLGJA has previously noted, the oft-used term “gay marriage” is both inaccurate and misleading. “Gay marriage” implies the creation of a new set of legal standards and guidelines as opposed to what is being sought by most advocates – the extension of currently existing benefits and responsibilities to include same-sex couples. More appropriate terminology in discussing such legislation would be “marriage rights for same-sex couples.” Or, in those instances where a briefer description is necessary, “same-sex marriage” as “same-sex” is a more accurate and inclusive description than “gay.”

Journalists are encouraged to check out NLGJA’s Journalists Toolkit on Getting the Marriage Story Right.